53 Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

I think about the time on the Serenade everyday since I have been back. It was one of the best times of my life. I would seriously never consider trying another cruise line for next time as I could only be disappointed. Royal Caribbean ... Read More
I think about the time on the Serenade everyday since I have been back. It was one of the best times of my life. I would seriously never consider trying another cruise line for next time as I could only be disappointed. Royal Caribbean rocks! The food was awesome, I recommend eating at the buffet style windjammer as it is come as you are with extremely flexible hours, and gourmet quality food. Go hang out at the skybar with rum at sunset and a cigar if that is your bag. Sign up for the thermal suite as an add on amenity to have access to the super steam rooms so you can roll the same the next day. Go there in the morning to start your day. I personally did the Jacuzzi to wake up with coffee them a steam and breakfast. What a way to live!!! I felt like a king for ten days. The casinos was cool too although I am not sure they were prepared for our "enthusiasm", not exactly vegas style but whatever it was cool nonetheless. O, and on the last day I did an accupunture treatment and it seriously almost 100% fixed my lower back problems in one treatment for a good 3 months. Just starting to tighten back up now, gotta go on another rc vacation! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
My husband is 72 and I'm 68 and It was our first cruise. We enjoyed every minute of the cruise. The cabin was very nice and comfortable, although we were surprised that there were no shower caps, no body lotion and no liquid soap. ... Read More
My husband is 72 and I'm 68 and It was our first cruise. We enjoyed every minute of the cruise. The cabin was very nice and comfortable, although we were surprised that there were no shower caps, no body lotion and no liquid soap. They did our room twice 1-day, but did not fold our pyjamas. The excursions were very expensive. They said that all nations needed visas to St. Petersburg and that was incorrect information. The embarkation and disembarkation were very professional and smooth. Bravo! The variety of food in the restarant on the 11th deck was wonderful. The service during breakfast in the restaurant on the 4th deck lacked . Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Hi! We just returned from the 3-28 to 4-4 Western Caribbean sailing on Serenade of the Seas out of New Orleans. We are still newbies, but I thought I’d post our experiences in case it helps anyone else. Prior to our cruise I learned ... Read More
Hi! We just returned from the 3-28 to 4-4 Western Caribbean sailing on Serenade of the Seas out of New Orleans. We are still newbies, but I thought I’d post our experiences in case it helps anyone else. Prior to our cruise I learned so much from CruiseCritic! I really think it made our experience more enjoyable. Our family included myself, husband, 16 y.o. son, and 17 y.o. son. About a week before our cruise I read some not so great reviews of the Serenade and was a little scared, but honestly we had a great time and didn’t have any complaints. Well, the only complaint was the wifi unlimited package because it worked only some of the time for my husband and most of the time for me, but not worth 200.00. Embarkation: We’re from the New Orleans area so getting to and from the port terminal was a breeze. We had a family member drop us off near the porters on Julia St at around 10:15 a.m. The only hiccup was that even though I had printed our set sail passes they had no record of it and we had to fill out everything again at the desk. Not a huge deal, but I was nervous and felt like I did something wrong. lol After that hiccup, we were on the ship playing mini golf by 10:45 Cabin: We had cabin 8604 and 8606. They were balcony cabins and 8604 was on the hump and had a deeper kind of pie-shaped balcony. My sons are 6’ and 6’4 and their feet kind of hung off of their beds, but all was good. Our cabin steward was great and always kept things clean and made awesome towel animals most days. Staff: All staff we encountered were really great. I did not see one person that was not smiling and they went out of their way if we had a question or request. The cruise director, Carly, held our roll call meet and greet and I found her to be very warm and fun to be around. The whole cruise director staff worked really hard making sure everyone was having a good time all week. Food: We ate in the main dining room (5:30 seating) every dinner and really enjoyed the food and selection. I would give the food an 8 out of 10. Our waiter, Kavi, and assistant, Videsh, were great as well as our table mates. My sons grumbled about wearing pants and dressing for dinner, but by the second day they were in a groove and didn’t complain because they really liked the food. We saw some shorts, but for the most part everyone around us dressed in pants (for the men) and sundresses or capris for women except formal nights. I did see a man in shorts on the second formal night and the server motioned to the maitre d, but I don’t know what they told him (he was already sitting) because we were on our way to our table. We mainly ordered room service for breakfast and it was great to watch the sunrise on the balcony every morning and have coffee, fruit, pastries and yogurt. On sea days, we sometimes ate lunch in the Windjammer, but it was usually crowded and the food was not the best, but it is probably because we don’t like buffets that much. We enjoyed lunch in the main dining room and the park cafe in the solarium also. Drink package: I purchased the replenish package for my sons and I haven’t calculated to see if it was worth it or not. They did get several frozen non alcoholic drinks every day and frozen coffee. My husband and I just drink water or coffee so we didn’t get a package. Entertainment: The live bands and shows were great on the ship. We loved the comedians, the pub singer, the Unexpected Boys and most of the entertainment staff shows. My sons did leave one show where they were acting and singing from different movie musicals. There was a nice instrumental guitarist, latin band and house band in the centrum that we really enjoyed listening to. Salsa dancing, 70’s party and cake decorating contest were fun too. Photographers: This is the best surprise of the cruise for me! It is so hard to get my teenage boys to dress up and take a family picture…. I bought the whole package on the 3rd day because they had a 50.00 off special. I am sooo glad I did because we got a stack of about 50 great professional photos for less than a sitting fee at some photographers. We really loved one of the photographers too, he would always pop out at dinner and say, “It’s me again!” I am really thankful for all of the great photos. Pools: We didn’t use the pools because they are small and were usually filled with little kids (main pool) or older people (solarium). It was nice to just lay out on a pool chair in the sun. Casino: We mainly went for about 20 minutes in the mornings. The casino was really smokey, but in the mornings it wasn’t bad at all. They also did double points from 9-11 a.m. The left side is non smoking, but it still smelled at crowded times. Things I learned: Luckily, none of us get seasick. We had rough seas one night and it was the best sleeping night for me. The bathrooms on ships are too small (like an R.V. bathroom). I also learned that I packed too much… Grateful to CruiseCritic for: I am grateful for tips about bringing an automatic air freshener. It really helped to come back to a great smelling cabin. I also learned a lot about how dining worked and other research so that I could know what to expect. Ports: Jamaica: We actually loved Jamaica! The port was beautiful and organized. We did the Dunn’s River Falls and Dolphin encounter with lunch. Our guide was Lyndal and he was great. Even though I read horror stories of vendors and such, we didn’t encounter one pushy vendor. Lynval had us on the falls in one of the first groups and the first group at Dolphin cove. The food was also really good there (except the hot dog). Grand Cayman: We did a reef and wreck snorkel and it was fun. The port seemed chaotic and 6 ships were docked. It was also really expensive to eat there because everything was in cayman dollars so when it was converted if you weren’t expecting it, you could get a shock. Cozumel: We love Cozumel and have been before (not on a cruise). We did the San Gervasio ruins with beach break. Our guide, Bianca, was great. Surprisingly, the souvenirs we bought there were cheaper for the same shirts than at the shops near the port. Our beach break was beautiful and we went to Pescadore restaurant right on the beach. I am excited that we finished our first cruise and am sad that Royal Caribbean is leaving New Orleans. I will be booking again, but out of Galveston. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something ... Read More
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something interesting to do. There were enough food options to always be well fed (not all food was great but most was pretty good). We enjoyed out 8pm dining in the main dining room, Reflections. Our wait staff was fabulous! They were always friendly and had good recommendations. The plating of the food was always nice and most was really good. We also liked having breakfast and lunch on the back of the boat at Windjammer. We did not try any of the speciality restaurants or buy a drink package (water, flavored water, lemonade, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, orange juice, and apple juice are all provided) We enjoyed the evening shows, Bingo, salsa dancing, and the workout room. We did find that the pools and hot tubs could be crowded at times, but still swam in the pool. We really enjoyed our time in New Orleans, Jamaica, and Cozumel. We did not care for Grand Cayman as much but still had fun. In New Orleans, we went sight seeing on our own with my husband's brother the day of embarkation and disembarkation. In Jamaica, we went to Green Grotto Caves and Dunn's River Falls. This was our favorite excursion. I would not travel around Jamaica on your own but with an excursion and in the port we felt safe. The port was nice and not crowded. On our excursion, our tour guides were great, especially at Green Grotto Caves. Our group did not get a videographer at Dunn's River Falls, but the groups that did seemed to get a better tour (ours was still great!). We also visited Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in the cruise port. I would not get food there again (it was pricey and mediocre) but it was fun to walk around and take pictures there. In Grand Cayman, we did the Stingray City, Snorkeling, and 7 Mile Beach lunch buffet excursion (I don't think that's it's exact title-but similar). I would NOT recommend this excursion. Grand Cayman was extremely crowded and busy. We will not take a cruise here again. The excursion was disorganized, started late, and we had a very large group. They cancelled our snorkeling part of the trip due to "rough" waters but most people in our group thought it was due to running behind with their disorganization-the waters weren't bad. Royal Caribbean refunded everyone $30/person for the inconvenience. We did not like Stingray City. I have snorkeled with Stingrays in Belize and swam with them in a small group. This excursion felt like exploiting the rays. There were hundreds of people crowded standing on a sandbar with some rays swimming around. The guides were holding them out of the water trying to get people to take pictures with them. Our guide charged $40 per picture. Our guides were very pushy and begging for tips. After the stingrays, we went to 7 Mile Beach. Our lunch and the beach were nice. There were chickens walking around on the beach. We snorkeled on our own here (we brought our own equipment, but you could rent some there). After our excursion, we walked around the crowded port and got gellato (it was a bit pricey for gellato but good). In Cozumel, we went snorkeling and to Playa Mia. We loved this. The port was nice and a bit crowded but not as crowded as Grand Cayman. We would like to come back on a cruise or stay at a resort. The boat ride to snorkeling and Playa Mia was great. Our guides were fun and informative. We took pictures, sang, and danced on the boat. They provided water, soft drinks, beer, rum punch, and margaritas on the boat. The snorkeling was nice and the group wasn't too large. Playa Mia was busy but there was lots to do. The food wasn't impressive, but we had fun! All in all, we loved our first cruise experience and look forward to more spring breaks (we are both teachers) of cruises! We were very impressed with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something ... Read More
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something interesting to do. There were enough food options to always be well fed (not all food was great but most was pretty good). We enjoyed out 8pm dining in the main dining room, Reflections. Our wait staff was fabulous! They were always friendly and had good recommendations. The plating of the food was always nice and most was really good. We also liked having breakfast and lunch on the back of the boat at Windjammer. We did not try any of the speciality restaurants or buy a drink package (water, flavored water, lemonade, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, orange juice, and apple juice are all provided) We enjoyed the evening shows, Bingo, salsa dancing, and the workout room. We did find that the pools and hot tubs could be crowded at times, but still swam in the pool. We really enjoyed our time in New Orleans, Jamaica, and Cozumel. We did not care for Grand Cayman as much but still had fun. In New Orleans, we went sight seeing on our own with my husband's brother the day of embarkation and disembarkation. In Jamaica, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman, we went on Royal Caribbean's excursions. All in all, we loved our first cruise experience and look forward to more spring breaks (we are both teachers) of cruises! We were very impressed with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our first cruise and was with 2 kids age 19 and 21, my wife and i are in our early 50's We were on Serenade of the Seas March 7, 2015 week. 2 rooms at front of ship deck 9 Left New Orleans for Key West, Nassau and Coco ... Read More
This was our first cruise and was with 2 kids age 19 and 21, my wife and i are in our early 50's We were on Serenade of the Seas March 7, 2015 week. 2 rooms at front of ship deck 9 Left New Orleans for Key West, Nassau and Coco Cay stops Staff was great everywhere on the ship, friendly and helpful. Our room steward was awesome, enjoyed talking to him and we had an issue with safe not opening one day, he instantly called a tech and the guy arrived in 5 minutes. Had an interior cabin, was perfect, all we did was sleep in it, never spent a minute there otherwise. Tons of food with a good variety, we ate in the dining room most nights, ordered 2 meals some nights to get a variety. Servers were awesome, Marek was one of our servers and he was great to talk to. These folks work their backsides off. The Buffet always had lots to choose from and was always hot. Omelette station every morning was my stop, perfection every time. Expect to gain weight :) Shows were good, comedians were very funny. Check in was smooth, getting on and off boat was trouble free and efficient. Boat was clean, crew were always touching up things, painting over spots, cleaning railings etc (mostly while everyone slept, i was up really late one night, crew were busy all over the ship, cleaning, dusting. polishing, vacuuming etc) The only things that need "fixed" are the pool table cues, they need some new tips, also the darts in pub are the cheap ones and not worth playing darts with.(bring your own) No problems bringing water on board, we had a dozen bottles of Perrier water in the carry-ons, no one said a thing In Key West we did the Conch Train tour, it was like 20 something dollars each at the booth by the stop in Key West. That was like half the price of what was offered on the ship, but it gets better, as i was talking to the rep and said that was a bit much and started to walk away he called me back and offered my 4 tickets for the price of 2, SOLD, a much better deal. 4 adults for 40 bucks - It was worth it, got to see alot of Key West that way. Even my 2 "kids" enjoyed it which i was surprised about. Yes the water and Photos on the ship are over priced but no different then going to Disney - bring your own water and take your own photos. Shore excursions can usually be purchased for way less off the ship as we did with the Conch Train tour (and a buddy that cruises all the time says they always book tours off the ship, sometimes even ahead of time via the internet rather then pay ship prices.) Hope this review helps Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We are back from our cruise on the Serenade of the Seas. This was our first ever cruise, and we really enjoyed the experience. I've broken the review down into segments concerning different aspects of the cruise. Embarkation – I ... Read More
We are back from our cruise on the Serenade of the Seas. This was our first ever cruise, and we really enjoyed the experience. I've broken the review down into segments concerning different aspects of the cruise. Embarkation – I read several reports that Royal Caribbean does embarkation well at NOLA. Our experience is that these reports are true. From parking garage to standing at the entrance to the Windjammer was about 70 minutes. Well done Royal Caribbean. We did the early arrival, getting to the garage by 10:40 AM. Plenty of agents to check you in. Best service can be gotten by having everything ready – passport.ID, SetSail Pass, credit card, etc. We saw several groups having problems due to not having documents ready. Kind of a bittersweet revelation, though – when the Serenade leaves in April for Europe, it won't be returning to NOLA, nor will any Royal Caribbean ship, at least for the foreseeable future. Tip – when you get your SeaPass card, get it punched at the processing desk if you plan on using a lanyard. That will save you a trip to a busy Customer Service desk later in the day. Get To Know The Ship – If you boarded early as we did, you probably have one to two hours before your room is ready for you. Take that time to explore the ship. After eating lunch at t,he Windjammer (nice view from the outside seating at the back of the ship), we walked up to the pool deck, thru the Solarium, took the elevator down to the Tropical Theater, walked thru the shops to the Centrum, and then our room was ready. And we knew the basic layout of the ship. Tip – every stairwell on the ship has different paintings and artwork on every landing. Take the time to see them. I suggest taking the elevator to deck 11 and walking down, as opposed to walking up. Extra points for finding the blue cows... Your Cabin – DW has a slight case of claustrophobia, so we booked an aft balcony. (#7172). Loved it. We can proudly declare we are FOREVER AFT-ers. Spent many hours just sitting on the balcony, eading, watching the wake, listening to the sounds of the sea passing by. After unpacking and meeting our cabin attendant (Ernesto), we sat on our balcony and watched the un-docking progress and watched NOLA recede in the distance. We took the time to walk forward on deck 5 to the bow of the ship, to get the experience of watching the Mississippi roll by. Tip – when you meet your cabin attendant for the first time, get to know them. We found out that Ernesto was from the Philippines, had 2 boys, and had worked on cruise ships for 10 years. He knew our names from the start and gave us excellent service. And if you get good service, tip well and mention them prominently in your after-cruise survey. Sea Sickness – If you don't know if you suffer from it or not, take the precaution of taking some Dramamine/Bonine/Sea Bands/whatever prior to boarding. Made it thru the first night fine, and thought I was going to be OK. The Gulf of Mexico thought differently. By 9 AM the first morning, I was either flat on my back on the bed or in the bathroom. Finally got some Bonine in me and I was fine by 1 PM. DW didn't suffer as much, just slightly queasy when she got up. She also took some Bonine and she was fine. Knowing now how we are, we will start taking Bonine the day prior to boarding. Tip – Go to the medical facility on the ship. They will have a box full of generic Bonine in the lobby – we grabbed a handful that lasted for the rest of the trip. Dining – I understand that this is very subjective. DW and I are from a small rural town in East Central Illinois. Our idea of fancy dining is someplace where you don't have to order at a counter and carry your food to a table. Treating ourselves to a nice dinner means going to Texas Roadhouse. With that in mind, here is our dining experience on the Serenade. This was our first ever cruise, we took it to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, and to have the honeymoon we never had. I signed up for My Time Dining, requesting dining at 6:45 at a table for two. When boarding the ship, we were asked to go thru a line confirming MTD reservations. We did so, and our reservations were correct. We showed up 5 minutes early the first night, and were ushered to our table. Technically is was a table for two – and about 6 inches from a full table for six. OK – so much for a romantic dinner. We were served some dinner rolls – tough but good tasting. Our head waiter came by asking if we would like something to drink. I requested some iced tea. I was informed that head waiters don't served iced tea, and he left. DW and I looked at each other, shook our heads, and drank our water. Another waiter came by and took our orders (horseradish crusted salmon for her, mojo -marinated pork chop for me). I had cut open my roll and put some butter on it, leaving some crumbs on the table cloth. When our entrees were brought, after setting them down, the waiter proceeded to bring out a small comb-like brush and proceed to brush the crumbs off the table cloth. Made me feel like I was some kind of uncouth slob. After our moist almond chocolate cake, we left, having felt we wasted an hour and 45 minutes of our cruise. Walking out, we noticed a table for two that was actually separated from the table next it by a column. We went to the MDR the next day to see if we could reserve that table for the night. We were told it was already reserved, and the lady we talked to didn't seem particularly interested in helping us. So, despite the food being good, we decided to forego the MDR for the rest of the cruise. We did eat at Giovanni's Table the next night (formal night). It was very good. Our waiter Murat was excellent. We ordered the Focaccie Alla Giovanni for ourselves, and he also brought us the Insalata Caprese Per Due for us to try. Delicious. DW had the chicken breast stuffed with ricotta and mushrooms, I had the veal tenderloins filled with provolone, mushrooms, and ham. Delicious again. Had several desserts off the dessert cart, all in all enjoyable. Close to 2 hours, but a more enjoyable experience. Too bad you have to pay extra. As for the Windjammer Cafe – we loved it. Were able to get what we wanted, there was a variety of food every meal, and was able to try some different foods (chicken florentine – good, tika masala not so much). There was a different meat each day being sliced and served (roast beef, pork tenderloin, turkey breast, etc), and a place that served grilled items (pork chops, chicken breasts, etc). You could also get omelets made to order, eggs cooked to order, etc. As long as you avoided the busiest times, seating was not a problem. And we ate at our own pace, either leisurely or quickly to get to a show or activity. And I was not made to feel like a hick from the sticks. My tip for dining? Do what make you feel comfortable – it's your cruise. DW and I discussed maybe going with some family members or church friends on our next cruise, and giving the MDR another try. It wasn't worth the hassle this cruise. Disembarking – We did the self-disembarking on our cruise. The Cruise Compass said that everyone who wanted to do the self-disembarking should report to the Tropical Theater at 6:45 AM. DW and I got up around 5:45, got dressed, hit the Windjammer for a quick breakfast, and reached the theater around 6:40. There were a group of people in the theater waiting with their luggage. I looked out the door leading to the promenade on deck 5, and saw the station that was set up for processing people leaving the ship. There was a couple our age waiting there with their luggage. DW and I decided to join them, and watched the ship finish docking. When they started processing people off the ship, we were 3rd and 4th off the ship. Within 10 minutes we were thru customs and walking to our car. This is the way to go if you have an early flight or just want off quickly. Several people on our roll call had later flights, and just waited in one of the lounges until they had to leave. Tip – Do whichever meet your needs or disposition. I hate lines, so the self-disembarking fit my needs. They can't keep you from leaving when you want. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We recently did a cruise with RC to celebrate our 40th wedding annniversary. From start to finish we thoroughly enjoyed it. The attention to detail was amazing and everything went very smoothly. The staff were all very friendly and made ... Read More
We recently did a cruise with RC to celebrate our 40th wedding annniversary. From start to finish we thoroughly enjoyed it. The attention to detail was amazing and everything went very smoothly. The staff were all very friendly and made you feel quite special. I liked that they would call you by name when getting on and off the ship. The food was very nice and plenty of it in several different restaurants. The entertainment was fairly good and the aerial acts in the Centrum were spectacular. There was something for everybody to do and plenty of places for sunning and relaxing. Plenty of sun loungers (except on sea days) and towels supplied. The weather was hot all the time but you could always find a shady spot if you wanted. We booked 2 short tours (4/5 hours) which were very good. One to the Accropolis in Greece and the other to Santorini. Both tour guides excellent and we had a very enjoyble trip both times. Other days we just did our own thing and got the shuttle buses into the port town. Our stateroom with balcony was fine but a little tight on space. We had to use the arm chair and coffee table to hold the suitcases. Plenty of wardrobe space and shelves and bathroom perfect. Everything was spotless and room cleaned twice a day. Our cabin attendant Kenneth was so nice and helpful and the towel folding at night was a lovely touch. We enjoyed the evenings in the different bars and the theatre and casino. Used the hair salon twice and also had a pedicure. Very pleased on both occasions but was pressurised into buying products I really didn't want at very inflated prices every time I went. The products were in bags and handed to me as I left. All in all this was a very memorable trip and we will definitely be looking to cruise again. If you eat in the Windjammer it takes a bit of organisation to get your food, a drink and find a table before food goes cold but it can be done. We learnt as we went along. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I know this was my first cruise and sure no expert but with all the research I did I don’t think I could have picked a better ship. It wasn’t a booze cruise or a kids cruise although they had both it wasn’t too hectic. The ship had ... Read More
I know this was my first cruise and sure no expert but with all the research I did I don’t think I could have picked a better ship. It wasn’t a booze cruise or a kids cruise although they had both it wasn’t too hectic. The ship had glass everywhere which made it feel very open and having a refurbish job done on it made it feel like a new ship. The rooms were ok. We were more to the front which was quiet as for hall traffic noise. They were very good on cleaning the rooms and special care of your needs or wants. Deck 10 was just right to get to everything go up one and your at the pool and Windjammer cafe. Waiting for elevators could take some time so we just took the stairs. I couldn’t believe the service; it made me feel like I was someone rich or important. All I can say about the food is WOW! It was the best. I had the drink package which I may have broken even but it was nice not to have to sign a receipt all the time. My only complaint was the time spent at ports. Key West was short and Nassau was ok but only a half day of daylight and didn’t want to be on the island at night. All day at Coco Cay which was nice for the day to swim and just lay out on the beach. I learned the most common question was “Where are you from” I will cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
I am 67 and this was my 1st time at sea .my husband was in the merchant navy many years ago so he was up for holidaying at sea. Seranade of the seas was perfect in everyway for me and my husband . The activities were plenty if you wanted ... Read More
I am 67 and this was my 1st time at sea .my husband was in the merchant navy many years ago so he was up for holidaying at sea. Seranade of the seas was perfect in everyway for me and my husband . The activities were plenty if you wanted them but if you (like me ) wanted to chill out there was plenty of space to do so. The service was excellent and although we didn't do the excursions we did our on thing and really enjoyed wandering through the ports of call. We had a balcony cabin and found it more than addiquite although the shower was a tight squeeze. The cabin steward couldn't do enough to make our cabin comfortable . The main dining room staff were excellent and the people on the table were really lovely The dining room was well run and so was the Windjammer. In. Fact I couldn't find anything negative to say about the foods and cafe's We enjoyed all the entertainment in the theatre very professional Disembarkation was well run from the ship but something needs to b done about customs which took 2 hours to get through. I would certainly sail with the Seranade again Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I started planning my cruise back in April of 2012, searching the internet, checking for info on the Mediterranian, which is where I wanted to go. By October I had chosen my cruise, for the Ports of call and for the ship, Royal ... Read More
I started planning my cruise back in April of 2012, searching the internet, checking for info on the Mediterranian, which is where I wanted to go. By October I had chosen my cruise, for the Ports of call and for the ship, Royal Caribbean's "Serenade Of The Sea". My flights were booked at the same time, Emerates deal was to good to miss. At the time I booked, I was planning to cruise alone, as a friend had some unexpected expenses and had to bow out, but by February 2013, another friend was set to join me, and we started planning our adventure, shopping for cloths, looking at excursions, Oh the excitment. We were alike in our choices for shore excursians, but, our choice of romeinalimo proved to be difficult, as you need to find 6 other people to share, I had only one site to post on until near the last 3 weeks, and could not get enough interest, will know better for our next cruise, it was from this site, cruisecritics that we were able to get onto a similar excursion for Cannes, which included, Nice, Monarco, Monte Carlo. That was spectacular, for La Spezia, we hoped off the shuttle bus, walked into the infomation office, and found a boat trip up the coast, that toured Cinquiterre, for just 35 euro and max of 12 people, we had only 8, it was so great, others went by train, and found the crowds hard going, we relaxed and as the first stop was already full of tourist, the boatman took us further on and we revisited that town on the return journey. Rome was hit by heatwave conditions, I had hoped for an Indian Summer but that was a little more than we bargained for, so we did not enjoy that day, especially as you need to travel by train for one and a half hours to get in from the port! Raveena, and a local bus around the cliff sides to Amalfi was crowded and hot, but oh! the views were special, and a local on board suggested we catch a local ferry back , so for 7.5 Euro bus, and 8 Euro ferry, and lovely shopping and sites in Amalfi, was a good day. After 4 ports , it was good to have a day at sea, I a hand massage with manicure, and my friend, a hair cut and style, lovely. Next was Venice, a beautiful port to sail into, we had booked a Gondola at sunset with serenade and tour, plus a 3 course dinner to follow, although 10 gondola's with 6 people each on board, when we moved into the Grand Canal, and the Tenor sang some beautiful tunes, some of which we new and sang along to, then moved through smaller canals with people watching and listening from the bridges, it was well worth it. Finding the restaurant was some what difficult, but lovely food and company, had us sitting till late into the evening. The next day, we wandered the lovely streets and alleys, saw St Marks Square, Bridge Of Sighs, etc, etc. Ravello was a minor stop and we only spent a couple of hours on shore here! but Kotor in Montenegro, well, when we sailed up the ford, it was raining and grey, most of us were quite disappointed, then suddenly the sun came out, but clouds remained on top of the surrounding mountains, and we were looking at a breath taking scene, once we landed, and got into the old city, we were very impressed, and wished we were to stay there longer, we sailed at sunset and the lights came on to another spectacular view, as we had window seating for dinner, we were able to enjoy it all. two days sailing back to Barcelona was timed well with a top to toe massage and facial, lazing and swimming in the Solarium before enjoying 3 nights in Barcelona, and almost 3 nights in Dubia. Whilst on board we were in cabin 4057, which I chose, and was fortunate to not be switched, we were near the Centruim bar, lifts, internet, one floor down from our dinning area, centre of everything really, and no noise. We enjoyed the Schooner bar for a drink before dinner, the Murder Mystery night with dinner at Giovani's, the shows in the theatre were fantastic! as was all the entertainment and shopping. All in all, we had the best experience, and cannot wait to book our next cruise, Serenade was just the right size for us. With plenty of places to see and do, or just a quiet corner to read and relax, together, or off on our own for some me time, it was well set out, most entertainment after port calls tended to be later at night, and we were usually pretty worn out from day tours, but others certainly partook of the fun. Meals were of a high standard, and we certainly fell into the trap of having 3 course meals, until the last few days, when all we really wanted was a small serve of meat and 3 veggies! So yes, dieting know we are home! I am now hooked on cruising, and will try for one every year, even if I have to go solo, I don't think there is any better way of holidaying, especially as Australia is so far from other countries, it makes sense to make the most of your time overseas to do and see as much as possible, in the most comfortable way. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
First time cruisers me and my boyfriend booked this holiday as we could not actually pick one place to go so a cruise seemed the ideal option. Arrived in Barcelona after a flight from glasgow/gatwick gatwick/Barcelona smooth process and ... Read More
First time cruisers me and my boyfriend booked this holiday as we could not actually pick one place to go so a cruise seemed the ideal option. Arrived in Barcelona after a flight from glasgow/gatwick gatwick/Barcelona smooth process and arrived at the port and could not believe the size! (never been on a ship before got very excited) Check into the ship smooth and empty hassle free. Arrived on ship and done the safety drill and started exploring! What a beautiful ship. The bars were great the schooner bar, english pub and the R bar at the centrum are great staff are amazing and cant do enough for you! The main dining room was fab never had a bad meal yet! windjammer was great to great choice! pools were immaculate and always attendants cleaning up! ports were easy - cannes a simple walk around , livorno(florence and pisa) barter with a taxi driver and they take you to both for £100 , chittavechia (rome) we done ourselfs by train but read up and be careful! nearly missed the boat! athens is easy on your own and santorini is the most beautiful place ever seen. Almamfi coast so much to do! Met some amazing people john,eileen,sue,mick,davie and rae! made our holiday had so much fun definatley be back on a cruise and the staff make this holiday! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
First let us introduce ourselves we are a married Egyptian couple with no children living in Kuwait I work in investment banking and my wife is a freelance graphic designer. We came across the Dubai cruise by chance and the booking was ... Read More
First let us introduce ourselves we are a married Egyptian couple with no children living in Kuwait I work in investment banking and my wife is a freelance graphic designer. We came across the Dubai cruise by chance and the booking was the fastest decision we ever had, took us around 15 minutes to close the booking we even decided to do an early anniversary celebration for it. We booked before the embarkation by a several month and till the big day we kept dreaming and fantasize about how it will look like beside lots of research. To cut it short to the review we landed in Dubai the day before the embarkation and stayed at Savoy Central hotel about 5 minutes drive from the port. And here comes the big day as we were approaching the port and got the 1st visual contact with the ship we were amazed by the ship's massive size (I know it's a small one compared to RCL fleet but we still rookies) , RCL land staff on the port were very nice , helpful ,smiling and organized the check in process took around 20 minutes including double checking with UAE coast guards our eligibility to take a return visa to UAE at the end of the cruise. Finally we got our sea passes and headed to the ship and from the moment we stepped in the ship the fascination started from the Centrum till we reached our stateroom at the 9th floor, after checking out our beautiful room we decided to talk a walk around the ship and since then we didn't stop walking till we reached back Dubai. Our stateroom was on the 9th floor we booked a balcony room very spacious with a nice size balcony , very comfy bed and pillows bathroom was good the shower was a little bit tight but wasn't a problem as you don't want to waste too much time in the shower , room service was great they clean and make up your room several times a day and by every night you will find your cruise compass along with a very nice wrapped towel (we had an elephant , dog and a hanging monkey. The ship is amazing with lots of activities from live shows to various dining options , relaxation by the solarium to watch movies on the huge screen by the pool, interactive touch screens on each floor showing the ship map , point of interests and all the activities going on board was very informative. For the dining we tried several places along the trip (Windjammer , The Reflections , Giovanni's Table and Park Cafe) usually we had breakfast around 8 Am , Snack 1 PM and Dinner 8:30 PM. 1- Windjammer : The food on windjammer is very nice with lots of varieties and the main thing we loved in Windjammer that no matter how crowded it is you'll never feel it due to its spacious space. 2- The Reflections : The food was very tasty and sophisticated and very nice wine menu. 3- Giovanni's Table : we went to Giovanni's Table on the Mystery Wine Dinner night Same as reflections very tasty and sophisticated and the show was awesome. 4- Park Cafe : Very nice for a mid day light snack and they have the best Roast Beef sandwich I ever had. Regarding the onboard activities we enjoyed the lovely animation team on the Serenade they had different activities every day , the Arabian night was wonderful . We went to the tropical theater a couple of times and were impressed by the huge production they have onboard , also the shows on the Centrum was very amusing specially the 70's disco night. The good thing that if you missed on any show (which defiantly you will as some shows are played together) it will be broadcasted on the internal channels on your stateroom TV. Also all live bands were very nice playing different genres of music from easy listening to latin music. The overall entertainment onboard the ship was awesome Service on the ship is wonderful and very professional from room attendants to restaurant greeters and waiters, bar tenders , animation team ,onboard shops sales representatives all officers and senior officers everyone is greeting you with a huge smile and won't save an effort to help you in anything. We didn't do any kind of shore excursions as we enjoyed the ship very much and we didn't want to waste any time outside it, we only got to a short tour in Oman by our own around 2 hours but from the excursions list we got on the ship seems like they offer lots of on shore activities with very reasonable prices. The most thing we loved in the cruise is the guests onboard the ship a very nice combination of multi culture people that are looking forward to spend good time all guests were friendly , smiling and happily greeting each other, we had lots of short/long side conversations with many people from all around the world we even managed to earn new friendship with a very lovely German couple on the 2nd day and we spent the rest of the cruise together. The only thing we didn't like on the whole cruise that the outdoor swimming pool became very dirty by the last 2 days of the cruise. Checkout process was very easy specially that I had all the onboard expenses debited from my credit card directly. Bottom line we enjoyed every second on the cruise and we are officially attached to the cruising life. we started looking for 2014 cruise already. In the end I would like to thank everyone working on the Serenade Of the Seas for making our dream vacation comes true. Hope the above info. Was informative for you. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Firstly, for those who have read my previous reviews I hope I've demonstrated that my comments are as objective as possible and where possible as positive as I can be. This review is based on my expectation for the price we paid. Had ... Read More
Firstly, for those who have read my previous reviews I hope I've demonstrated that my comments are as objective as possible and where possible as positive as I can be. This review is based on my expectation for the price we paid. Had I paid less I may have thought our experience was acceptable. This is quite long, but bear with me! As a result of lots of positive comments from friends and the fact that I love anything to do with water we decided to give Cruising a go. I chose Royal Caribbean because it sounded like an American company and therefore I expected a really high standard of customer service. Furthermore, as it was a first time experience I decided to go for a high-end option. To make the booking I initially rang straight through to RCI, but they couldn't organise the itinerary I wanted (odd), but they sold the cruise well so I contacted my own agent and they were able to book the complete deal without any fuss (dial a flight -- Michelle). Paying the amount we did we expected priority for various procedures such as boarding, lounges, bathing, dining, the usual and from the tone of the call to RCI I wasn't expecting anything less -- you get what you pay for. We set off, really looking forward to the trip! We arrived at the port in Dubai to embark on the 'Serenade of the Seas' (1) We were surprised to note that there was no one at the entrance to identify what type of customer we were and to guide us from there. In fact this set the tone for the trip and much of what we discovered over the next 7 days was as a result of default rather than good customer care. We made our way to the check in and were advised that we could access our stateroom at 1pm. (2) we were told to wait in the general waiting area. First impression was not very good. (3) Deck 11 is a bit tired looking and reminiscent of a 2-3 star holiday camp. By the way, I was 15 years old the last time I was at a holiday camp and I think I'm well past that type of experience! We made our way to what was an Owners Suite. It's a 2 bed-roomed suite with a living area, a bathroom, en-suite and balcony. Couldn't swing a cat on the balcony as 2 sun-beds, a table and 2 chairs took up all the room. (4) As the week progressed the balcony became a real source of irritation. We were in very high temperatures and as the barrier was fully with no ventilation it became like an oven so unusable! By day 2 when I realised that getting a location on the general sun deck that didn't involve getting intimately close up and personal with all the other guests was nigh on impossible, the fact I couldn't our balcony was really frustrating. Later that afternoon we went in search of lunch. 'The Windjammer' was the only option. This is a buffet style canteen. First impression -- Staff really very miserable and unfriendly -- oh dear, and worst of all, plastic plates - Yuk! Unfortunately, having 24 years in the customer services sector means I'm more aware of what good service is and if you've read my previous reviews I'm really good at complimenting those organisation who deliver well. However, rather than throw myself overboard I decided that the best course of action is to eat (the plastic food) and have a glass of wine. (5) We had bought the premium drinks package $55 per day per person, which included all types of drinks. Total cost to us, as 4 adults in the family, was £995 for the week. We aren't heavy drinkers, but we didn't want the hassle of having pay for each item so consolidating it seemed a good idea. I asked the rather fed up waitress if I could have a glass of wine. Waitress - "Do you want red or white?" Me- "White wine pleases. What have you got?" Waitress- "Chardonnay" Me- "Don't you have Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio" After all these are probably 2 of the most popular grapes!! Waitress- "No, just Chardonnay!" Brilliant, I thought, this is going from bad to worse, which way to throw myself over board? So far rubbish greeting, shabby boat, horrendous canteen, miserable staff and now I can't get something reasonable to drink! Needless to say we dispensed with the premier drinks package -- at the end of the week we spent less than the cost of the package anyway, so would not have been worth it! (6) When we got to the cabin we were advised that our luggage would be delivered to our cabin by 8pm. Joy -- this meant we wouldn't have had the option to lie in the sun as we didn't have any swim wear! We booked 'my time dining' for 6.30pm so couldn't get changed for dinner either! (7) Our cabin attendant arrived to show us round the cabin. He was a nice chap but not very informative. He showed us the manual and left. At 6.30 we made our way to 'my time dining' located in the Reflections restaurant. It was very cramped, but looked really pleasant and professional. Nice tableware, neatly laid out and thankfully smiley waiting staff. Thank God for Yasar and Harry. Yasar is from the Philippines and was genuinely keen to ensure that we had a good dining experience. Our family just loved him. He was so sweet and polite, and so we generally took his menu recommendation. To be fair, he was normally absolutely right. 'Miss Alice' and 'Sir Alan' was how he addressed my daughter and husband, I think I was 'Madam Janet' and he really made up for the poor impression we'd had up to that point. What was even more endearing was that even though we'd eaten at the speciality restaurants for the following 3 nights and given that there were 2000 guests on board, he remembered our names when we ate there again. So impressed were we with this team we ate there for the rest of the week. Harry was also really sweet and as the week progressed he opened up a little more. They made a very good team. Top tip -- Take the 'wine package' for dinnertime, as you get better choices and overall probably works out as being more cost effective. General comments - (8) Entertainers on this ship were awful. Singing is not there best feature! Whoever auditioned them needs to have their ears tested. The karaoke singers in the pub were better. - Casino -- Staff don't smile. We didn't actually use the casino, as we wouldn't know what to do except lose money, but it was interesting to observe. - Theatre Shows - My husband and daughter attended the Beatle's night (big hype for this show!), and had it not been for the fact they were at the front, they would have left very early on. I was given the impression that the shows were fabulous on a cruise -- not evident on this one! - Pool area and sun deck -- one word Horrible. Beds were plastic and uncomfortable and far too close (some very intimate moments could be had if you were that way inclined) and the pool looked decidedly dodgy. (9) I love the sun and it was one of the key features of why we chose this cruise. However, I managed 6 very unbearable hours in cramped and thoroughly unpleasant bathing conditions. My family did not even entertain the idea of going out onto the deck and as our balcony was like an oven we couldn't lie out in our own space. As a result we came home the same colour as we left! - Restaurants - Chops Grill -- Really, really great steaks and pudding. A definite must. Giovanni's -- Good Italian food. Azumi -- very bland and lacked character - Concierge Club -- Opening hours not brilliant as these were 8-10.30am and 5-8.30pm. Wasn't opened on day 1 from 1pm, which would have been really useful as could have given us a lot of information. We were booked on an early sitting so didn't get round to going there until day 3. Provided complimentary drinks and food, which were okay, but no Gordon's or Bombay Gin! Dawson and Lee were lovely and ensured that we were never without a drink. Francois was really helpful. - Trips -- Seriously overpriced and so we didn't use the service - Stop over's --Throughout the trip we docked at industrial ports so nothing attractive to look at. Nothing to be done about that, but again as we were first timers it was disappointing. Suggestions -- as per numbers 1. There should be someone to meet priority clients and to guide them through the process of checking in and then advise what to do 2. The concierge lounge should be open for the whole day on day 1, as it would allow guests to meet each other, break the ice so to speak. It would also provide an opportunity to learn more about what to expect or what is provided during the trip rather than guests having to figure it out as they go along 3. I understand that the ship has had recent refurbishments and this is evident in most parts of the ship, but the areas on deck 11 look really worn, so first impression not good. Other areas did look good. 4. The balcony should have slatted barrier to allow air to get through. Useless in extremely high temperatures 5. Premier drinks package should have a variety of wines. Lets face it a reasonable bottle of Sauvignon Blanc can be bought at cost for a few pounds, in bulk even less, so don't be mean. It appears a bit money grabbing!! 6. For priority client's luggage should be taken to rooms at earliest time, otherwise what's the point in paying extra? 7. Cabin attendants for Gold card clients should be given time to actually instruct their guests on options and what to do rather than directing them to a manual to read 8. Get better singers. 9. Section off an area for Gold card clients to sunbath What we loved 1. 70's night was hilarious 2. The guests who sang on the Karaoke night 3. Yasar, Harry, Dawson, Lee and Francois 4. Chops Grill 5. Coming home! Would we cruise again -- Yes, but on a smaller and more customer focused ship. We would never travel to this part of the world again and will try Europe or somewhere that has a more attractive and interesting landscape. Also one where you pay for the whole package rather than feeling as though everywhere you turn someone is after more money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We have recently returned from a week's cruise in the Middle East on board RCI's "Serenade of the Seas". This was our first cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We booked very early, paid extra for an outside ... Read More
We have recently returned from a week's cruise in the Middle East on board RCI's "Serenade of the Seas". This was our first cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We booked very early, paid extra for an outside balcony and chose cabin 8102. On our balcony were 2 sunloungers, 2 chairs and 2 tables ... and there was still plenty of space. The cabin itself was compact but there was ample wardrobe space, hangers, cupboards and also a sofa. The shower was always hot with plenty of pressure. The staff were superb, particularly our waiter (Sandry) and assistant waiter (Ajay) who made our evening 3-course dinner in the Reflections Restaurant even more enjoyable (Table 451). The food was superb and sometimes it was difficult to decide which dish to have. There was also a "healthy option" but we did not select from this menu! One point to mention is regarding the dress code for dinner. According to the information we were sent prior to the cruise, there were 2 formal nights (tuxedo or suit and tie), 2 smart casual nights (jacket and shirt) and 3 casual nights. However there were no smart casual evenings so my husband had taken a jacket and 2 shirts for no reason! In addition on the formal nights we were disappointed to see that several guests wore casual clothes. Surely if the literature referred to a dress code, and the daily "Cruise Compass" newsletter left in the cabin stated what was required, then it should be enforced? The "Windjammer" self-service restaurant is available to everyone at no extra charge so those guests who did not want to make an effort should have been advised to use that restaurant on formal nights. Check in was very efficient. We flew overnight from LGW on the Emirates flight and were taken to The Hyatt Hotel for breakfast where we completed the necessary boarding documentation and received our cabin keycards. Mid-morning we were then taken to the ship where we could take advantage of the sunshine relaxing on loungers on the sun decks until our cabin was available. There was no queue to get onto the ship. Disembarking the ship was even more efficient. Luggage was collected from outside cabins at midnight and guests were advised of the time of their departure and where they should assemble in the morning. Purchasing drinks packages prior to departing the UK is definitely worth doing as it means you can have some control over the costs involved, paying for these in advance so that it's not such a shock at the end of your cruise! We chose the unlimited soda fountain package and a 7-bottles of wine package (other deals are available). Obviously you can purchase more drinks when on board which will be charged to your cabin. We were also allowed to take 2 bottles of wine on board with us that we had purchased at LGW duty free, but you should declare them before boarding the ship as other drinks might be confiscated. The ports of call were interesting. We had previously been to the Middle East and visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi but had never been to Muscat in Oman. We therefore decided to do the Mystical Mosque and City tour but booked this independently via our travel agent about 2 months prior to leaving the UK. This meant we had already paid for our trip and it was at a much lower price than if we had booked it direct with RCI. Imagine our surprise to find that we were the only 2 people on this excursion, chauffeur driven in an air conditioned luxury car by our very knowledgeable and helpful guide and we could therefore explore at our own pace. The mosque was fascinating and definitely worth a visit. However it is only open to the public until 11 a.m. and please note that ladies should wear loose long trousers (or loose long skirts), long sleeves, preferably socks with sandals and a scarf to cover your head when in the mosque itself. Men should not wear shorts. On board ship there's plenty to do during the day and in the evening but it is up to you whether you wish to join in or just relax. There are numerous bars, lounges and places to sit. We had a great time and will go on a cruise again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We arrived in Barcelona 2 days ahead of the cruise. Stayed at the Hotel Continental Barcelona. Very nice and centrally located. Boarding the ship on Monday was very well organized and we were on board within minutes of check-in. Our ... Read More
We arrived in Barcelona 2 days ahead of the cruise. Stayed at the Hotel Continental Barcelona. Very nice and centrally located. Boarding the ship on Monday was very well organized and we were on board within minutes of check-in. Our cabin was on deck 7 fwd. Excellent service provided by James 'Mr. Bond' from Costa Rica. My Time Dining worked out well and we were well cared for by Sathish and Milan. Stephanie was a pleasure to work with in setting up dining times. Food throughout the ship was very good and we especially enjoyed one night at Chop's Steakhouse. We ordered breakfast in bed twice and Room Service was prompt and food was hot. We found the Schooner Bar to be a great meeting place and we were entertained by Cresente (Chris) with card tricks and bar puzzles. Windel at the Sky Bar and Deel at the Pool Bar kept us well refreshed. The evening shows were good but we didn't see most of them due to full days of sight-seeing. This is a port intensive cruise and we enjoyed every port of call. Tendered in Cannes and Split, but this did not cause any problems with meeting tours ashore on time. We took private tours in groups of 8 with Riviera Premium Tours in Cannes, Tuscany Taste Tour in Pisa/Florence and Rome, and AP Tours in Salerno for our Pompeii, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast. I would highly recommend them all but ESPECIALLY Tuscan Taste Tour. Venice, Ravenna and Split are easily done without a paid tour. Disembarkation was as easy as getting on the ship and we were at the airport by 0830. Taxi cost 23 Euro. This was a super cruise, great people, and excellent crew and staff. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Background Information: My wife and I decided to try a 12 Day "Royal Caribbean" Mediterranean Cruise for our first cruising experience. RCL came highly recommended by friends and family. Ship Info: The Serenade is 9 years ... Read More
Background Information: My wife and I decided to try a 12 Day "Royal Caribbean" Mediterranean Cruise for our first cruising experience. RCL came highly recommended by friends and family. Ship Info: The Serenade is 9 years old but doesn't show her age at all. The Crew make sure everything is spic and span and in ship shape :) She goes into Dry Dock in November for some refurbishments etc. Activities: For a mid sized ship, the Serenade had lots to see and do on board for people of all ages. We spent most of our time on deck, by the pool or in the cinema. The shops are good as well. Service: The service on the ship was Exemplary! From our Stateroom attendant to our servers and Guest Relations staff; each one did more than asked of them, to make our trip really great. Port & Shore Excursions: We did 3 shore excursions with RCL and 3 with third party providers. One word of advice. Go with the 3rd party providers... We somehow felt like cattle with the ship excursions. Thought they were very nice, we didn't see half as much with the RCL excursions. Third party ones like Romeinlimo were fantastic! Oscar, Oscar, Oscar: On the 7th night, at 4:30am, the Captain blared on the ships announcement system that we had a man overboard. We later learned that it was a crew member. The ship stopped, turned around and the emergency rescue team deployed rescue rings and boats immediately. We searched for 12 hours but to no avail. We lost a day in Venice because of this. It was a very sad event and our thoughts go out to the crew members family. Embarkation: was very smooth. They took our passports and gave us receipt tokens, to be used to get back the passports at the end of the cruise. That's the only thing that took time to process. Stateroom: The room was 170 sq ft. Small. But had enough storage, nooks and crannys to store all our clothes and luggage. The bathrooms are microscopic, but I believe that's the norm on all cruise ships. Dining: Excellent food and service in the main dining room. Windjammer was crowded and I felt the quality a bit diminished. It always took us a minute or so to find an available table. Staff were quick to clear old plates and clean tables for us. Entertainment: Sub par, except for this stand up magician who was fantastic! Disembarkation: No issues at all. We were off the ship in 15 mins. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
The first day can be a little rough after the airports, and transportation to the dock and then the cattle call of boarding and standing in line for what seemed like forever, and then you are finally on board, only to be called for the ... Read More
The first day can be a little rough after the airports, and transportation to the dock and then the cattle call of boarding and standing in line for what seemed like forever, and then you are finally on board, only to be called for the muster drill. I know this is an important part of the orientation but once again standing in straight rows on the deck for the better part of a half hour was starting to cause considerable discomfort. That being said, the rest of the journey made up for that 1st day. The food was good in the main dining room, and of course the more causal Windjammer always had a big selection. The specialty restaurants (Portofino & Chops) were excellent. The cabin steward was great. Purchased a small Wifi package to keep in touch with people back home. TIP - you get faster connect speeds during the off-hours. Most of the ships personnel were courteous. Purchased several excursions from R.C. and they were good, for a glimpse of the cities. You really have to spend more time in the popular destinations like Rome, Florence, where there is so much to see. Kusadasi, Turkey was a pleasant surprise! Some rough seas heading back in to Barcelona but all in all it was memorable trip, and we hope to cruise again soon. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Firstly I must just say that we booked this cruise 8 months before the sail date and RCI changed the itinerary several time including reversing the whole cruise which meant we had the first 2 days at sea not the last 2. this was a shame as ... Read More
Firstly I must just say that we booked this cruise 8 months before the sail date and RCI changed the itinerary several time including reversing the whole cruise which meant we had the first 2 days at sea not the last 2. this was a shame as the 2 days rest at the end would have been welcome. That aside we had a fantastic time. I had not really considered the whole cruise experience before i went I had just been thinking about the ports of call and saw the ship as a means to get there but When we set sail I could not beleive what a great experience it was going to be.....in short I was loving it. Embarkation was very good taking about 45 minutes (This seemed ok but have nothing to compare to).It was straight to the windjammer for lunch. I found the quality of food there very good, we ate breakfast there most days and lunch when we were at sea It does get busy we always found a table. We used the MDR several evenings and found the food very good most of the time. We had my time dining so did not always have the same staff and as the waiters knew we were MTD and had been with other waiter they were a bit OTT as they wanted our tips. This was a minor gripe though.I also have to say how lovely Stephanie was, (the lady who was at the desk when entering the MDR)always getting us a table for 3. There was always somewhere to eat, even by the pool there was a Paella one day, bbq the next, huge apple pies and ice cream on another occasion. That could be the reason I gained 6lb. I knew I should have used the gym !!!!!!!!!!!! Our Suite was very spacious with exceptional storage space and a bath too (which did not get used !!!!!!!)an LCD TV, kettle and coffee maker with tea and coffee replenished each day by our lovely attendant Rosa.The sofa bed was not so good my sister had one night trying to sleep on it but is was fairly worn and practically no matress. They arranged a fold out single bed for her which was better but was not ideal particularly when you have spent £2000 plus on a holiday. We also heard an occasional rumble from the windjammer above us but nothing bad enough to disturb us. We used the Schooner bar most evenings and the guys (francesco & Christina) in there were also very friendly. The piano player was not so good !!!!. I found the entertainmaent pretty good, perhaps a little repetitive. But Disco night was fantastic and a credit to the entertainers they had the whole centrum 'GROOVING !!!' I read so much about expensive drinks and yes they are not cheap but i found the prices to be acceptable. I have been to some Pubs/Hotels in UK and paid more. All in all I had an amazing time I far outweighed my expectations and we are now looking at where to go dcruising next. The last review I read before our cruise was Whalflower and it concerneed me a little as he did not give a good review. I should not have been worried serenade of the seas made me a happy chappy. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
First let me say this was my first cruise. It was my wife and I, plus our 6 year old son. I have been to Sandals, St. Lucia and Beaches, Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean before. We flew into San Juan the day before the cruise and ... Read More
First let me say this was my first cruise. It was my wife and I, plus our 6 year old son. I have been to Sandals, St. Lucia and Beaches, Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean before. We flew into San Juan the day before the cruise and stayed at the Caribe Hilton. I'd say the Caribe Hilton is pretty much ideal for a pre-cruise hotel with its pools and bay and proximity to Old San Juan and the port. On the first cruise day morning, we checked out Castillo San Felipe del Morro. It is a must see. We left the hotel at about 3pm for the port. It took us about 45 minutes to get onto the ship. Lines were not long at all. Our cabin was 9558. It is an ocean view cabin with a balcony. The cabin had a sofa that converted to a bed for our son. The room was in absolutely great shape. I have rarely seen a hotel room in as good a shape as the room was in. The room was extremely quiet. For breakfast every day we did the windjammer. It had an OK selection for breakfast, nothing extraordinary. I found it obscene that they charged for fresh squeezed orange juice. We hit the windjammer for lunch on two of the afternoons and it had a very good selection of food. The second cruise day was a sea day on the way to Grenada. We did the Portofino pasta demonstration lunch and hung out at the pool most of the day. The pool is ridiculously small. Formal night was on this night. At Grenada we took a water taxi to Grand Anse Beach and hung out for the entire day. It is a very beautiful beach, but we were swarmed at first by chair and umbrella vendors. Once we settled down and picked a vendor, they left us alone and got drinks and food for us with no problem. At the end of the day, we took the water taxi back to the ship. At St. Lucia, we had already been there years ago, so we just took a taxi to Rodney Bay and hung out at Spinnakers restaurant for drinks and lunch. Then we took the same taxi back to Mourne Fortune to overlook the ships in Castries. Then the ship took us back to Castries. At Antigua, we took the Excellence catamaran tour around the island, it was awesome. You snorkeled and had lunch at Green Island and then also stopped at Ffryes beach on the way back. My son was able to snorkel here with no problem. There were about 150 people on-board, but there was plenty of room. We didn't step foot in town. At St. Croix, we took a taxi over to Christiansted and then got on the all day sail to Buck Island with Big Beard's Renegade catamaran. I highly recommend this excursion. The sail to Buck Island was about an hour and then you stopped on turtle beach for a while to enjoy the awesome white beach. Then we sailed over to the reef and they guided you snorkeling for about 15 minutes and then let you snorkel as much as you wanted for an hour or so. My son did snorkel here, but was scared of the coral, and only did the 15 minutes. I snorkeled for another 45 minutes or so here and saw schools of blue tangs and some barracudas among many other fish. It is the best snorkeling I have ever done. After snorkeling, we sailed back to a beach on the main island where they have a barbecue setup for burgers, hot dogs, fish, chips, drinks and my son was able to play on the beach and in the water some more. After sailing back to the dock, we caught a taxi back to the ship. At St. Thomas, we just did a small amount of shopping and then took a tour of the island with just the three of us on a giant open sided tour vehicle. The tour was about two hours and he took us to breathtaking views of the island. What a beautiful island. Dining: We did My Time Dining, but that was kind of pointless, because we ended up eating at 6:15pm every day except for the first day. We had the same waiter and table every day anyway. The food was of excellent variety with choices of about six appetizers and six entrees every day with no repetition between days. The food was of good quality with some excellent thrown in, but I felt food at Sandals and Beaches was of higher quality. Certainly any decent restaurant in the US has better food than was provided on the ship. Drinks: It is absolutely silly that you have to pay for sodas and other juice drinks. Beer selection was OK, for non-craft beer. The mixed drinks were of OK quality. We did do a 7 bottle wine package, but maybe that saved us $20 in total. I wouldn't do a wine package again, and that would free us up for the whole wine menu. Photography: We paid $250 and that allowed us to get all of our professional photos for the cruise. I had a stack of nearly 100 8x10's of excellent quality. I thought this was a good value. Conclusion: This was an excellent trip to get a sample of many islands. I think it was a bit hectic of a schedule for a vacation. The ship was of excellent size for cruising. Not too big, not too small. Very little to do on-board as compared to bigger ships, but that didn't matter, since most of the days we were out exploring. For my family, the total costs of the vacation ended up being a little more than an all-inclusive resort for 7 days. Certainly, you can save money by picking an inside cabin, not drinking, and not doing any excursions, but what is the fun in that. Frankly I'm not sure how you could sail without a balcony. I loved listening to the waves as we slept with the door cracked open at night. In the end, I prefer a nice Caribbean resort with gigantic pools and excellent restaurants over cruising. We will cruise again, but only to sample other islands we haven't been to. I would have no problem sailing with Royal Caribbean whenever we do sail again though. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
I am an avid "explore and conquer" type of vacationer, so always thought the cruising side would be too laid back, more like an all inclusive vacation where it was all sit around the pool getting drunk with several thousand ... Read More
I am an avid "explore and conquer" type of vacationer, so always thought the cruising side would be too laid back, more like an all inclusive vacation where it was all sit around the pool getting drunk with several thousand others doing the same thing and nothing else really going on. Boy was I wrong! With five islands to explore, as well as all of the ship activities, it was almost too much to take in. I was exhausted by the end (always a sign of a good vacation in my book... should need a vacation from the vacation by the time you get home!) I worried that the lines for embarking, disembarking, eating, etc. would be annoying and take away from the vacation experience. They have this down to a "T" on the Serenade, with very little waiting in line ever. Amazing how they can move this many people this quickly and keep the experience positive and far from feeling like a cattle call. The ship is very nice. Yes, there are a few places showing her age. Nothing compared to the hotels we stayed at in San Juan (but that is for a different review...) Overall, it's amazing how well she is taken care of and the continuous work to keep her in top shape. We enjoyed the shows and activities, the pool scene, the fitness center, and dancing the night away. Almost hated to leave to go see the islands, and always looked forward to coming back. She has turned me into a cruisaholic, and I'm looking forward to my next fix! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was our first cruise (with three children, ages 18, 14, and 14), so despite our research we were somewhat unsure what to expect. To our delight, we had a wonderful week. Here are some specifics: Embarkation: Thirty minutes from ... Read More
This was our first cruise (with three children, ages 18, 14, and 14), so despite our research we were somewhat unsure what to expect. To our delight, we had a wonderful week. Here are some specifics: Embarkation: Thirty minutes from the door of the taxi to being on the ship, and it seemed to to take even less time. Really quite painless. We were on the ship by 12:40 and room was available at 1:00. Two of our bags arrived by 2:00 but the other three bags didn't arrive until after 6:00 (for some unexplained reason), so dressing for dinner was problematic for our kids. Meals Despite an opening night snafu (see below), meals and service were absolutely superb, even by our admittedly high standards. We generally had breakfast and lunch in Windjammers and dinner in the dining room, although we occasionally had lunch outside at Seaview (you should do this). The one downside was our first night. We had reserved a table for 5 three months ago for the 6:00 seating, but when we arrived there were already people sitting at the table to which had been assigned. When we brought this up with the maitre-d, he replied that we were supposed to sit with this other family who were sitting at our table. There were two problems with this. First, we had expected a table for our family alone. (That seems like a reasonable expectation.) Second, even if we wanted to sit with the other family, there were not enough seats at the table. Clearly, they had screwed up but the maitre-d kept insisting that we "weren't happy with our table" as if it was our fault. He also said that there was no more room and that we would have to eat every night at 8:45. Only after we insisted on being seated did a table magically appear -- both for that night and for the rest of the week. Luckily, the somewhat officious attitude of the maitre-d was not repeated by the various waiters. They were absolutely wonderful. My wife and I ate at Chops one night and Portofino another night. Both restaurants were half-empty (we ate at 7:00). Service was great and food was fine, but not worth the extra $$ in our opinion. Excursions We booked four through RCI and they were a bit hit or miss. The Baths at Virgin Gorda was superb -- perfect first day. We then did the volcano hike on St Kitts. It poured rain, the hike (which was strenuous) was very muddy, and there wasn't much to see from the top. Not much fun. We went snorkeling in Dominica. The snorkeling was outstanding but the catamaran didn't have enough pairs of flippers (really??) and thus we only were in the water for 1 hour or a 3 1/2 hour excursion. The moral of the story: book carefully.Service Outstanding in every way. Nightlife We took in two shows (beautiful theater). One was a magician/comedian who was superb -- funny, clever, and a little edgy in a way that appealed to our teenagers. The other was an aging crooner who made his name singing the "Happy Days" theme song. He was pretty awful. The casino was fun and the bands downstairs were pretty good. Our teens all found a lot to do (and had late nights). Cabin We had two balcony staterooms on deck 10. Both were very quiet and perfectly fine in terms of size. We had considered a junior suite, but think we made the right choice saving money with these cabins. Overall This is a beautiful ship -- spacious without seeming to be overwhelming. So it was the perfect size for our first cruise. The week was a perfect balance between fun and relaxation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Royal Caribbean treated us great! We were able to board about noon in San Juan and the on-boarding at that time was fast. We explored the ship and had our first on-board lunch in the Windjammer! After lunch we decided to find our cabin ... Read More
Royal Caribbean treated us great! We were able to board about noon in San Juan and the on-boarding at that time was fast. We explored the ship and had our first on-board lunch in the Windjammer! After lunch we decided to find our cabin and were surprised how big it actually was. It is laid out very smartly. Here are some details for others- Window was actually large maybe 3' in dia, there was room to move on all sides of the bed (2 nightstands- great to hold books etc) lots of room for the suitcases under the bed. We had a small loveseat and table too! Large closet with shoe shelves, tie bar, and a long hanging side and a dual hanging side. The desk had 2 dual outlets (never needed the suggested extension cord- and it did have a hair dryer in the room. Desk had large drawers on each side. TV, small refrig, and some more cabinets above the TV. There were small shelves above the desk- and in the bathroom! Water on board was fine to drink, and the small shower had a clothes drying line- we brought clothes pins and it worked great. Our luggage arrived while we were still checking the room out. We did the Mytime dining and really enjoyed the main dining room. We had a table to ourselves, and sometimes thought it would have been good to move about and meet others- but it seemed all seats were assigned. We liked the flexibility of when to arrive for dinner. We had the same waiter and assistant waited for the whole cruise- they were super. The food in the main dining room was very good with a nice selection of fine dining choices. We used the Windjammer for Breakfast and found it to be OK. It had all the food you would think of for a large breakfast buffet. It was like buffet food though- nothing special. We went out at each port, so most of our days were off ship except our one cruise day. During the one day at sea we had wonderful sunshine (many days had rain or showers) so everyone was in a lounge in the sun. We maxed out on the sun by lunch time and did some of the ship activities. Climbing wall had almost no wait, we took a swing dance class (just one other couple so private lessons with the professional dancers from the production cast), and a video scavenger hunt (did some crazy stuff). In the evenings we enjoyed some dancing. Lots of dance choices all with live music. Most sat and watched as we hit the floor but we didn't care...and are not all that good. Just know that all the alcohol on the ship is extra cost as are the soft drinks! We went to most of the big productions shows- mostly music and dancing- "Stage to Screen", Tony Tillman, The Unexpected Boys, "Vibe-Ology" and a variety show with David Morgan. I'd rate the shows as OK. Other info for us first time crusiers- Lifeboad drill is the first night. Lots of hand sanitizer was available to keep us healthy, you get a "Seapass card"- logs you on and off the ship, and is your onboard credit card. You put out bags on Friday and get them back after you get off the ship just before customs. Off boarding times are preset depending on you flight times or if you are staying in port. Everything was very well organized. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We loved our first-ever cruise and very much enjoyed the RCCL Serenade of the Seas. We booked through a travel agent, but he really didn't add much since we are good researchers, so I probably wouldn't bother next time. We ... Read More
We loved our first-ever cruise and very much enjoyed the RCCL Serenade of the Seas. We booked through a travel agent, but he really didn't add much since we are good researchers, so I probably wouldn't bother next time. We cruised with another couple who had cruised several times before, and felt more comfortable having some seasoned cruisers with us. We did pretty careful research on each port, so we had a good idea what we wanted to do in each place and were able to arrange a good balance of adventure and relaxation. Our friends had never bothered to research much in advance, but after cruising with us and seeing how much our preparations added to the trip, they are sold and plan to do more research in advance next time. Plus, it makes the fun of the cruise last much longer - the months of research and anticipation are half of the fun! Arrival: We flew into San Juan the day before so that we would not have to worry about making it to the ship on time. Our flight left Cleveland at 6am which meant that we had to get up at a ridiculous hour. We were exhausted by the time we got to San Juan, so we just checked in to the Caribe Hilton and rested rather than even trying to explore San Juan. Lunch at the hotel restaurant (Pina Colada Club) was over-priced and nothing special. We were in the Hilton Honors Tower and the room was lovely with a great view (and a very cool shower). Later, we wandered around the property and it was gorgeous and very relaxing! The beach was small but very pleasant, and we loved the hammocks right by the beach to relax in. The only time we left the Hilton was to take a cab to the Metropol for dinner - it was a fantastic meal! We had the Cuban Sampler, black bean soup and tres leche cake and it was all wonderful (and very reasonably priced). Embarkation: The next morning we relaxed and it was handy to have a Starbucks there for a quick, simple breakfast. We headed to the ship around 11:30 am. Embarkation was smooth and easy. I loved that there was a small shop where I could get 2 12-packs of Diet Coke (my personal addiction) to have in our cabin. We got right on board and had lunch at the Windjammer. By 1pm our cabins were ready and we could settle in. I had purchased the Unlimited Soft Drink package and was very glad I did. I wasn't sure how it would work, but they give you an insulated cup with a lid and you can get it filled at any of the restaurants or bars, so I probably wouldn't have needed 2 cases of Diet Cokes for the room - one would have done fine for me. That meant that I never needed to be without my mandatory Diet Coke and it was easy to bring it back to the room full for the evening. One caution: when you first get the insulated cup, be sure to wash it out with soap and water multiple times. It has a unpleasant metallic taste which takes several washings to get rid of. Cabin: We were in Cabin 2021. We had heard how small the cabins on cruises were, but actually our cabin was just fine. We opted to save our money and get an inside cabin and that worked well for us - I think we'd do that again and put the extra money towards another cruise! The cabin was so well-designed that there was room for everything we brought in all the nooks and crannies of the room. True, I couldn't quite walk around my side of the bed without climbing over the end of the bed, but it was no big deal. I liked the location of the cabin. I know that Deck 2 is not particularly classy, but it was very convenient to getting on and off the ship in port. Our cabin steward was great - we expected 3 towel animals, but actually got 4 which was a fun surprise! The room was always clean, with plenty of clean towels - there was even room for a loveseat which we could actually sit on to relax. The single best advice we had gotten before the cruise was to take the stairs instead of the elevator - great advice! I ate much more than I should have, but the stairs from Deck 2 to the Windjammer on Deck 11 (and elsewhere) gave us a good work-out and I ended up not gaining weight on the cruise - a very pleasant surprise! Dining: Overall, we loved the Serenade of the Seas - I know that it is being overhauled this coming November, but it looked to be in great shape to us as it is! The food was excellent- we never got tired of the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch. We had breakfast in the dining room one time and that was also lovely, but seemed unnecessary - there was plenty of variety at the Windjammer, so we never ran out of things to try and it was easy and convenient. We also enjoyed the Seaview Cafe - great guacamole! On the first day, there was a bit of stress because somehow we were not placed to sit next to the other couple we were cruising with. I have no idea whether that was the fault of our travel agent or of the cruise line. However, we got things straightened out fairly easily, got to dinner early the first night and ended up getting seats together that we all liked. The dinners were major events each night - the service was great without being stilted, the company was very pleasant, and the food was excellent. It was like eating at one of the best restaurants in town every night. I was very glad we brought clothes to participate in the more formal nights - the food was great every night, but even better those nights. Entertainment: We also very much enjoyed the entertainment. We hadn't been expecting too much, but were pleasantly surprised. We went to every evening show. The Broadway-production type-shows were excellent, we very much enjoyed the comedian, and the Temptations tribute band was fun. The comedian (Joseph Yannetty) was on 2 nights and he was hilarious! The DVD really doesn't do him justice - the way he worked with (and teased) the audience members was a riot. El Gaucho and John Ferrentino were our least favorites, but we still had pleasant evenings. One night, we and the other couple we cruised with had the Safari Bar, live band (ironically called "Just 4 You"), and dance floor to ourselves - very nice! The Quest game was very silly but fun - I do think that the game planners should mix things up enough so that repeat cruisers can't just bring things they know will be needed. It's not fair and makes it a bit less fun - but we still enjoyed it. We took a couple of dance classes that might have been a bit advanced for some of the cruisers, but we learned some new steps and had a blast. Mark was the Cruise Director and he was just perfect - fun and lively without overdoing it or being obnoxious. We had to really think hard to come up with anything at all that we didn't like about the cruise (yes, it was that difficult!). The swimming pools were small and crowded, but we weren't particularly interested in those, so we didn't care about that. We could always find plenty of deck chairs in the shade for relaxing. One friend we cruised with said that the water in the hot tub was warm, but the bubbles rising to the surface were cold, which spoiled the effect. We didn't bother to try it (mainly because we were busy doing other things.) The cruise was supposedly pretty full, but it never felt the least bit crowded. The Meet & Mingle was a disappointment. There were only about 6 other people there, sitting together and talking with each other. There was a nice fruit and cheese tray and, because there were so few people there, we won a bunch of fun RCCL-themed prizes. However, there was no meeting and no mingling, so I probably wouldn't bother next time. Tortola: We did the trip to the Virgin Gorda Baths through RCCL - We were going to book directly through Speedy's which would have given us more flexibility in term of timing except for the fact that we were there on a Sunday. Speedy's schedule is very limited on Sundays and wouldn't have gotten us back until 4:30 pm which was cutting it too close for our comfort. So we opted for a shorter visit through the official RCCL tour. The whole excursion was well-handled and well-organized - this was probably our favorite excursion of the whole cruise. The weather was gorgeous and the ferry ride was fun - we rode on the top in the open air on the way there and inside on the bottom level on the way back. We definitely preferred the open air despite the wind - the views were great and it had a festive atmosphere. The Baths were great! At first there were tons of other people on the path, but as soon as we got to the first beach, the crowd thinned out and we could make our own way which was much better. I could have stayed for hours longer just crawling through caves and on top of rocks - there were so many different places to explore! I will definitely go there again and spend more time - but it was a lovely introduction! We got back to the ship for lunch and then went out to explore downtown Road Town. It was a Sunday, so almost nothing was open. But there wasn't much there anyway. It was hot and run-down with very little to look at and very few stores (open or not). Decidedly not a place to shop or explore! St. Maarten: We decided to have a more relaxing day today after the exciting excursion yesterday. We were planning to walk into town, but couldn't easily find the way, so we took the water taxi for $6 (unlimited trips). Basically all we did was shop - but we were successful at getting most of the gifts we wanted to bring home. I was glad we did some comparison shopping: We almost bought liqueurs at the Guavaberry Emporium, but decided to look around first. At another store, we were able to buy a variety of small liqueurs in exactly the types and quantities we preferred, at exactly the same price (the Guavaberry Emporium gave us many fewer options). Plus, the people at the Guavaberry Emporium were decidedly unfriendly). We walked along Great Bay Beach and realized that laying in the hot sun in a jam-packed row of other people laying in the hot sun was just not our thing. So we shopped and then took the water taxi back to the ship for a relaxing afternoon. St. Kitts: We didn't plan a formal excursion, so the four of us went out of the ship area to where the taxi drivers were and asked for someone to take us to Brimstone Fortress and Romney Manor. We were lucky to find Marvin Harrigan (Marvin Taxi Service - e-mail MarvinTA389@hotmail.com; cell 1-869-663-1693). For $20 per person we had a lovely tour. We wanted more time at Brimstone Fortress, so we planned for 1 hour there instead of the usual 45 minutes. We could have spent many more hours there! We had fabulous views, found the video and fortress fascinating, and enjoyed the experience. The $5 audio-tour, however, was absurdly slow-moving, so I'd pass on that next time. We learned all that we wanted just from exploring the Fortress and the exhibits. We then had a brief visit to Romney Manor which gave us time to see at least some of the lovely gardens and buy some beautiful batik gifts. The best part of the day, however, was Marvin - he was very knowledgeable and proud of St. Kitts and showed us many other areas. He actually spent over 1/2 hour more with us than had been arranged because he had so much to show us. He answered all of our questions and took us to a spot where we could see both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean at the same time. When we expressed interest in certain aspects of the culture, he went out of his way to show us relevant areas. He dropped us off at the Ballyhoo Restaurant, overlooking The Circus, where we had a light lunch of conch chowder. A lovely day which gave us a good feel for the island of St. Kitts. Dominica: We had originally planned to go to the Papillote Wilderness Retreat for their Interlude for a Day ($60 per person for garden tour, thermal hot springs bath, and gourmet lunch). They had said that they could send a taxi to pick us up or we could just take our own taxi out there. Since we didn't know what time we would be ready, we decided to take our own taxi. Bad idea! When we got off the ship mid-morning, the taxi drivers told us that all drivers were going in the opposite direction in the morning and that no one could take us to Papillote until the afternoon. So, be sure to get them to send you a taxi if you want to go there. We had lunch at the Windjammer and then headed back to the taxi area. We decided that we didn't really have time to go to Papillote since we didn't want to be rushed, so we decided to go to Screw's Spa instead. We got a taxi from Louis Romain of Son-Shine Services (e-mail: louisromain102@hotmail.com; cell: 1-767-245-1772). He had another couple who wanted to get a general tour of Dominica, so he dropped us off at Screw's Spa, took them on to Tralfalgar Falls, then came back to pick us up and continue to show us around. Screw's Spa was exactly what we wanted! There was literally no one else there when we arrived, so for $10 per person we had 6 thermal hot spring pools (at varying levels of heat) to ourselves. We love the heat, so the first and hottest pool was our favorite, but we tried them all. The setting was gorgeous and the pools felt great - we especially liked the hot water falls! We got totally relaxed and very much appreciated the plate of fresh fruit given to us afterwards. There are numerous videos of Screw's Spa on Youtube - check it out! Louis picked us up exactly on schedule and then gave us a very good tour on the way back to the ship. He showed us Trafalgar Falls from a distance, and showed us many different types of vegetation, buildings, the Botanical Gardens, the smushed school bus, etc. When he expressed interest in buying some Dominican coffee and Cocoa Tea, he took us to a supermarket when the locals shop so we wouldn't have to pay tourist prices. Excellent service! We got a very good taste for the island including its history, educational system, etc. All we had really expected was a ride to and from Screw's Spa, but Louis turned out to be an excellent tour guide and was a bargain at $20 per person. Barbados: Based on the many positive reviews on CruiseCritic, we booked the Snorkeling with Turtles Tour through Silver Moon before our cruise. We booked the 24-person tour. I loved the boat and the crew - they definitely went out of their way to make sure everyone was happy. It was a beautiful day and it was very relaxing to sail around, enjoying the sunshine, the good music, and the unlimited free drinks (alcoholic or otherwise). The lunch was excellent - I had really wanted to try flying fish. The crew pointed out various sights on shore along the way. The snorkeling itself was just as advertised: we snorkeled at one site where we saw turtles and at another site with 2 shipwrecks. Personally, I enjoyed relaxing on the boat more than the snorkeling. I'm used to much more private snorkeling, where there are just a few people at a coral reef with the leisure to just float around and spot a wide variety of fish and sea creatures. This felt very different: there were several other boats at each location, so there were clumps of people snorkeling close to each other to see the sites. It was cool to see the turtles and the shipwrecks, but there were so many people around that you had to be careful not to kick the turtles or other people. The turtles and shipwrecks were cool to see, but there was not a wide variety of fish or other sea creatures and it was not at all private. So, it was exactly what we were expecting and Silver Moon did a great job. As far as I was concerned, it was well worth it for relaxing on the boat - for snorkeling itself, I'd rather go with more of a wilderness/private feel. Disembarkation: Disembarkation was straightforward and easy. We had booked the Bacardi Distillery Tour through RCCL with airport drop-off, so we met at 7:45 am in the Tropical Theater. Getting through Customs and Immigration was a breeze with nice, short lines. The bus portion of the Bacardi Distillery Tour was excellent: Our driver was Rafael Schultz (I believe), who was originally from NYC. He was quite a character and very entertaining. We were too early to go right to the Distillery, so he drove us around San Juan and gave us a brief tour and history of Old San Juan, including driving by 2 forts, Ponce de Leon's house, etc. Although we didn't get out of the bus and explore anywhere, it made up a bit for the fact that we had been too tired to explore San Juan on our own that first day here. The Bacardi Distillery Tour itself was very disappointing. In my view, the whole point of a factory tour is to get a glimpse into how things are actually made and see the process in action. There was none of that here at all. All we got was the history of Bacardi and what was basically an ad for their products - nothing whatsoever about the process, machines, etc. We were rushed through the exhibits so quickly that we didn't even have time to press each informational button, let alone even look at the other exhibits. It was nice that we got tickets for 2 free drinks (more from the driver if we wanted) but it was too early in the morning for me to get into drinking. I liked the idea of doing an excursion that would kill time before my flight and get me to the airport, but next time I'd choose the Old San Juan Tour or just about anything else besides Bacardi. The driver picked us up on schedule and got us to the airport in plenty of time. This was a good thing, because the lines at security were enormous! It seemed to take forever, but we still had more than enough time to eat lunch and get to our gate for our uneventful flight back to Cleveland. All in all, a very positive introduction to cruising - we'll be back! Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Embarkation First impressions of RCI weren't that great. Upon arriving at the Pan-American pier, there was a long line to first wait for porters to take your checkin bags. The staff was friendly once we eventually reached the front ... Read More
Embarkation First impressions of RCI weren't that great. Upon arriving at the Pan-American pier, there was a long line to first wait for porters to take your checkin bags. The staff was friendly once we eventually reached the front of the line. After leaving your big bags with them you enter in to a large hall and aimlessly follow signs. There's a line per deck (our room was on deck 8). So that was another line to wait in. We thought this is where we'd also be told about drink packages and what not, but that was not the case. You just sort of check in and get your sea pass (credit card equivalent and ID for the entire trip). Then we actually stopped by at this duty free shop and someone suggested that we buy coke and water here now and that it would be a good idea for the cruise. Turned out to be true, I think. It was like $8 or so for a 12 pack, which was very useful as compared to paying $45 on the ship for unlimited soft drinks. We put the cans in the fridge in our room, so it turned out well. So you walk around and up on to the ship and there was another line where they checked our passes and ID's (actually there were like 3 such checkpoints, which got to be ridiculous). Especially now with these coke 12-packs and bottle of water, my hands were killing me through all this. Then you get on the ship and..... . Not a single person is there to tell you where you are or where you need to go. We eventually figured it out and got to our room, but I thought that was kind of strange. Stateroom We had upgraded two levels up to a balcony room; still we were surprised to find that our room was really tiny. I think that's normal for a cruise, but it was a surprise to me being it was my first time. Still, balcony was great and we were happy with the room in the long run. Ports Regarding the ports, I would say there is one important key. Do your research! I heavily read people's reviews on cruisecritic.com and I read a lot about each destination on tripadvisor.com. Those two sites were VERY helpful. I have included details of what we did at each of our 5 ports. Food/Drink The dinners at Reflections were great. Our head waiter, Anthony, was an amazing guy. He went SO out of his way to watch after us that it was amazing. Food is unlimited on these cruises and there's always something available to eat. There were also some great drinks available, but of course those aren't free. Not crazy expensive either. It ranged from $5-$7 per drink. Not bad, given the environment. The ship definitely makes it's money on the drinks, though. There were a couple of days were the ship really rocked quite a bit. We were lucky not to get sea sick, but it really moved. It's funny to see large groups of people all shifting left and right as we all walk down a hall way. Casino - Real, quick I went here a couple of times. They have every kind of table game, which was awesome. Unexpected. I played 3 card poker, caribbean stud poker, roulette, and craps. This was over 3 nights. I'm happy to say I came out in the positive. That's quite an accomplishment over 3 nights, me thinks. Didn't win big... I was probably up like $20 net. But again, 3 nights worth of entertainment and you come away with anything from a casino and that's a win in my book. Entertainment - We saw this comedian, Miguel twice. He was pretty funny. There was a magic show, which was really funny too. The magic wasn't all that amazing, but it was done in a hilarious way. We went to a game show called Quest. That was a LOT of fun. It's kind of like playing truth or dare crossed with a scavenger hunt, and all in a friendly competitive way. Definitely exciting. The cruise director, Ricky Matthews is really energetic. He knows how to get crowds going and all. He does a great job at what he's supposed to do. One cool thing I noticed was that the pool tables had this automatic stabilization thing on them. So even if the boat is rocking like crazy, the table stays completely flat. That was really cool. Other things to do... there are shops, there's a gym, there's pools, a club, a cigar lounge, all sorts of bars. You can get your pictures taken all the time and gather those. We bought a four 8x10 package at the end of it. Overall, there's plenty to do, but I'm still glad chose an itinerary which had more island stops that sea days. The islands were much more fun. To see even more details about our trip, including factors on deciding a cruise and what we did in Puerto Rico, please see my complete blog post: http://randomobservationsblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/trip-to-caribbean-paradise-reviewed.html Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Serenade of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.6
Public Rooms 5.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.3

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